By Richard Stroobant

Within in the last 3-5 years, mp3 has changed the way producers receive their dubs. At our station, we now receive over 700 spots per month via mp3. Yep, 700 a MONTH!!!

In the good ole days, we would receive our tapes via couriers from agencies, production houses, dubbing studios, whoever. It didn’t matter who sent them; they delivered them TO us. And then, not that long ago, we received them from DGS (or DCI here in Canada), which again were delivered right to us. Now, with the advent of mp3, they are sent to us via email, which is not so bad (as long as the quality is there).

But what is bad is when we have to “GO AND GET” their spots from somewhere. I don’t even really mind an Internet delivery company like Slingspot or SpotTaxi (now FastChannel). At least they have a large, industrial site that is managed and they archive the spots for us. Plus we can download several clients' spots from that one site, AND you only have to remember one log-in name and one password. Not really too bad.

But what really gets me, is every rinky-dink client, that has their own ftp site that their next door neighbor’s son set up for them to save them a few bucks. We are now forced to sign into their site and go and get their spots. I mean HEY, YOU SHOULD BE SENDING THE SPOTS TO US!! (Breathe Dick, breathe.)

Most stations now have their own email addresses specifically set up for commercials now. How tough would it be to attach the mp3 with the traffic instructions? A couple of clicks, (and a little time on their part) and BOOM! There it is. But instead they tell us where to go and get their spots. Well, I don’t want to have 700 ftp sites (with 700 passwords) that I have to get the spots from. The agencies and production houses are saving mega dollars on courier fees, overhead costs for tape, reels, labels and boxes. The least they can do is make it easy for us, and send them TO us, rather than us going and getting them. It takes too much time on our end.

And just yesterday, a ONE HOUR special that we are to run this weekend was made available on an ftp site. No satellite feed, no CDR sent to us. It was only made available to us as MP3s on an ftp site. It took me over 1 hour and 15 minutes to download this monster, and then another hour to transfer it to a format we could play on the air (we can’t play mp3s directly on the air here). Now, I bet you’re thinking “What do you got, a 14.4 modem?” Nope, a T1 connection—pretty fast. It’s just that these shows are too big to be sent over the Internet. This show was split into four 15-minute segments. And each segment was, you better sit down for this one, 26meg. Mulitplied by 4. OVER A HUNDRED MEG, YIKES!!!! It took almost 2.5 hours to download and then transfer this monster of a show that will air....ONCE!!!! (Good air in, bad air out.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully embrace technology. I love it. I began using mp3’s to send spots a long time ago. But wasn’t technology invented to make our lives easier? So far, I only see the agencies, production houses and other lives getting easier (and their bottom lines getting better). Perhaps they just don’t realize how the trickle down effect affects us. Maybe we need to tell them?

Is anybody else bugged by this? If it is not happening to you yet, it will, trust me. Can anything be done about it?

Well, I’ve started. I ask, very politely, all the clients who don’t send them to us via email (or even one or two Internet companies) to please start sending them to us that way. So far it’s working. They have been very receptive (especially when you tell them how much money they save by sending it electronically now). As for the one-hour show, I had to bend over and take one for the team.

We are on the very start of this new technology and if we can train the agencies, production houses and anyone else, how we would like them to do it, maybe we can make things easier for us in the future. If we don’t, we better get ready to grab our ankles and “assume the position.”